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Related News

Payroll Tax Deal Likely

From SBAM's national affiliate, NSBA:

Following months of back-and-forth debate over employee payroll tax cuts, the gridlocked Congress appears poised to extend the current two percent cut through the end of the year. Congressional leaders announced a tentative deal last night which also would extend unemployment benefits for another 10 months and once again push back the Medicare “doc fix” that would result in cuts to their payments.
The total cost of the package would be around $150 billion with the $100 billion cost of the payroll tax reduction being added to the deficit and the $50 billion cost of the unemployment benefits and Medicare doc fix being offset by budget cuts elsewhere. Among those pay-fors: requiring federal workers pay more into their pensions ($15 billion); and cutting funds from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) for promoting wellness and reducing chronic diseases ($5 billion).

Negotiators also are working to reducing the limit for unemployment benefits from its current 99 weeks. The language in the current deal would allow the term to be dependent on a state’s unemployment rate, but the range is likely to be somewhere between 73 and 79 weeks. The controversial language allowing for drug tests of recipients of unemployment benefits was scrapped along with a requirement that the recipient must enroll in a GED program if they have not finished high school.

The deal has come under fire from many Republicans criticizing the payroll tax cut extension for not being offset. The key negotiators, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.)—the two chairs of the tax-writing committees, along with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) outlined this deal and have underscored the need for the conference committee to craft a formal proposal, thereby fast tracking it and limiting the amendment process.

Unfortunately, the employer-side of the payroll tax was, and has been, all but ignored during discussions over measures to help consumers and the economy.

Workers' Compensation: Four Mistakes Employers Can Make

Originally published by SBAM partner AdvanceHR.

Many employers look at Workers' Compensation as just another unavoidable cost of doing business. It's usually one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind issues when rates are low. It's not until employers are hit with rate hikes that they really start to give some thought to it.

Employers need to look at Workers' Compensation as a tool to improve the bottom line, and they certainly need to make an effort to keep their rates low over the long-term so they can take advantage of some significant savings.

Here are four mistakes made by employers that can deter their Workers' Compensation savings:

    1. Don't assume that lower rates equate to lower costs.

Don't make the faulty assumption that your cost will automatically go down just because your rates have been reduced. Workers' Compensation insurers use an experience modification factor to examine the actual losses incurred by the insured company to establish cost. The actual losses are compared to other industry-alike companies. If the insured company's past losses are below average, then the insurer gives the company a credit rating lowering their premium, but an added surcharge is applied to the premium if the insured company's past losses are above average.

    2. Don't believe employers have little control when it comes to the expense of Workers' Compensation.

Employers know they must have Workers' Compensation insurance. However, this acknowledgment shouldn't lend to an employer thinking they've got to pay excessively for it. Cost reduction starts with the hiring process. Initiate effective interview techniques and background checks to help ensure the right people are hired for the right jobs. That said, there's no way to completely eliminate the possibility of injuries in a workplace.

Therefore, it's equally important to have an effective return-to-work program in place to simultaneously assist injured workers return to work as soon as possible and reduce the cost of their claims.

    3. Don't neglect or de-emphasize cost containment and injury management during low rate periods.

Safety should be an unyielding focus at all times. This will not only help a company reduce their claim numbers, but also keep their rates low over the long-term. Employers need to keep an eye on the issues that frequently impact the costs of claims, such as medical care costs and lost wages. Also, remember that open claims mean escalating costs and negative impacts to the company's modification factor. Of course, this causes an increased cost for coverage.

    4. Don't ignore the association between cost containment and worker retention.

Studies have shown that fewer accidents occur among skilled workforces, but even skilled workers can have an accident. A large factor in whether or not an injured skilled employee returns to work is based on how the employer responds to the individual during and after recovery.

An important part of an employer's response is having a return-to-work program that includes maintaining constant contact with injured workers and their health care providers to monitor how they're recovering and when and how they can get back to work as soon as possible. Skilled employees are more likely to return if they are kept in the loop with a return-to-work program's periodic phone calls about workplace changes that might be occurring in their absence. On the other hand, skilled employees that feel forgotten, undervalued, and disconnected are less likely to return.

SBAM members have access to a Wor

Get training to help your small business comply with environmental requirements

Registration is now open for the 2012 Michigan Environmental Compliance Conferences, conducted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The conferences will be held April 26 at the Treetops Resort, Gaylord; May 1 at the Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids; and May 10 at the Laurel Manor, Livonia. The cost is $115 per person.

Three concurrent tracks with over 15 sessions will cover waste management, water quality requirements, air quality requirements, pollution prevention, energy efficiency, and more. All conference attendees will receive the brand new 7th Edition of the Michigan Guide to Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations.

Click here to get more information on the agenda, continuing education credits, and registration.

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelehen/

Startup aims to help small businesses save money on organic waste disposal -- on today's Business Next free audio seminar

Michael Rogers interviews Justin Swan of Organicycle, a west Michigan company doing innovative work in organic waste disposal for small businesses. Listen at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. today on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show pagePhoto by http://www.flickr.com/photos/dnorman/

New survey shows rising optimism by nation's small business owners -- details on today's Business Next free audio seminar

Michael Rogers talks with Todd McCrackin, president of the National Small Business Association (SBAM's national affiliate) about the Year-End Economic Report. Listen at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. today on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.

(photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/djbiesack/)